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Healthcare & Life Sciences

Supporting healthcare delivery with cloud-native medical imaging

November 16, 2022
Joe Miles

JManaging Director, Global HCLS Industry Solutions, Google Cloud

Omer Schalit-Cohen

Vice President and Chief Product Officer, Enterprise Imaging, Change Healthcare

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The U.S. healthcare system is facing a watershed moment — poised to reimagine how providers and patients deliver and experience care. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed underlying vulnerabilities that already existed (site of care shifts, resource pressures, cybersecurity, to name a few) and set the stage for new technologies to emerge. Among these is cloud-native medical imaging, a comprehensive solution that securely connects hospitals, physicians, patients, and data and works to support patient care. 

Increasingly, radiologists need to be able to read, diagnose, and collaborate on images on any device from anywhere and in real time, including in remote settings. A radiologist shortage and an ever-increasing volume of medical imaging have only compounded the demand for a more distributed workload and better, faster, and more secure imaging tools.

Key challenges facing healthcare IT teams

Hospital and healthcare systems today face aging data ecosystems, rising costs of data storage, and increasing cybersecurity issues. 

  • Data security: According to a report by cybersecurity firm Sophos, two-thirds of U.S. hospitals were hit by cyberattacks and ransomware last year, costing on average $9 million per incident. Hospital data is often exposed, running on aging servers, and in multiple on-premises locations. Viruses can potentially replicate easily throughout platforms and services. 

  • Data storage: Traditionally, hospitals have stored their own medical imaging in multiple, often siloed, on-premises data centers. Medical imaging data represents 90% of overall medical data; and maintaining, replacing, and expanding the storage infrastructure needed for that data comes at a significant capital expense. As more images must legally be stored, organizations face constant pressure to increase their storage; and many hospitals find themselves overprovisioning (and overpaying for) storage to ensure the system can operate. 

  • Data migration: Healthcare systems that have already begun to migrate their data to the cloud are running into cost and complexity issues when it comes to migrating medical image archives. Most are currently reliant on the lift-and-shift approach of installing traditional server-based software in remote data centers, but time is an issue. At an average migration rate of 30,000 studies/day, it is estimated that it can take up to 18 months to move data off an old system and on to the new one.

Meanwhile, hospitals and providers aspire to reduce turnaround time — the time from when a patient is scanned to the final report — and improve care coordination. Volumes are also dramatically increasing: Today, the average radiologist views 26,000 exams per year, whereas less than two decades ago they viewed 14,000 exams per year. Clinicians need a faster, less cluttered, and less labor-intensive imaging workflow, viewing, and archive system to help ease daily workload and reduce burnout.

Re-imagining patient care in the cloud

Increasing volumes of data don't have to be a liability. Google Cloud and a cloud-native imaging platform provider are turning it into an asset.

To help healthcare organizations solve the challenges they face, Google Cloud and Change Healthcare worked closely together to develop an innovative solution that addresses the cost, complexity, and security gaps of storing and managing medical imaging data.

“A cloud environment makes it easier and more cost-effective to house and share large libraries of medical images that exist in healthcare,” explains Tracy Byers, SVP and GM of imaging solutions at Change Healthcare. “Beyond significant cost savings, centralizing the data in a cloud environment enables sharing of information, allowing caregivers to collaborate to make better decisions.”

Combining Change Healthcare’s expertise in medical imaging — like the Stratus Imaging solution — and Google Cloud’s capabilities in artificial intelligence, analytics, and secure-by-design infrastructure, the two companies co-innovated an enterprise imaging platform that enables healthcare organizations to securely access, review, and share medical images, from anywhere to anyone, easily and cost-effectively. 

5 advantages of a cloud-native imaging platform 

  1. Drive faster, more accurate diagnoses. When images are automatically uploaded and available to view immediately, providers can review and report findings faster. Complete availability of all imaging data supports accurate and timely diagnosis. 

  2. Securely access images anytime, anywhere. Enable a distributed workforce and satellite clinics or outpatient environments to securely review and access medical images on a zero trust framework that authenticates, authorizes, and continuously validates that the right user is accessing the data. 

  3. Modernize with ease. Reduce the complexity and costs of upgrading your systems. Provide your clinicians with modern capabilities through a fully managed imaging platform purpose-built for enterprise imaging from the ground up. 

  4. Improve services through simplified access to medical images. Empower all stakeholders — from IT and operations to clinicians, physicians, and patients — with real-time visibility into medical images with an intuitive, easy-to-use viewer. Drive additive usage patterns and leverage data that was previously single purpose with access to modern and ever-evolving cloud-based services/tools directly from the imaging application. 

  5. A patient-centric experience. In the past, patients who wanted to obtain their images would need to make a request, have them burned onto a CD, and then pay for delivery. With an imaging platform, patients can access their medical images through a modern web app, giving them control, transparency, and data mobility in a patient-friendly experience. 

Connect hospitals, physicians, patients, and data

Early adopters of the Change Healthcare and Google Cloud solution are already seeing the cost reduction and performance improvements of modernizing with a fully managed imaging platform. With increasing pressure to reduce hard costs and uncover invisible costs, onboarding a cloud-native imaging solution not only offers seamless data migration and 99.99% or higher uptime, but can also reduce cost of ownership by 20%.1

With complete, real-time visibility over all imaging data from any device, Change Healthcare and Google Cloud are helping healthcare organizations drive faster, more accurate diagnoses that facilitate better patient care — all at a lower cost and with less complexity. Learn how your organization can benefit from our deep cloud, data, and medical imaging expertise.

1. Uptime standard based on implementation and utilization of Change Healthcare system configuration guidelines

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